Detroit, MI (Sports Network) - On a night when Comerica Park celebrated Christmas in July, the Athletics took advantage of some gifts from the Tigers' bullpen to snap their six-game road losing streak.
Hideki Matsui highlighted a four-run seventh with a go-ahead RBI single, one inning after he hit the 500th homer of his professional career, and Oakland salvaged a split of its two-game series against Detroit with a 7-5 victory.
After blowing their second lead of the game in the sixth inning, the Athletics opened up the deciding frame by drawing three straight walks off Tigers reliever David Purcey (1-2). All three base runners eventually scored, with Matsui plating Coco Crisp from second with a base hit to right to snap a tie game.
Conor Jackson added an insurance run in the inning with an RBI single and Andrew Bailey worked around a one-out walk in the ninth inning to record the 61st save of his career, tying Jay Howell for sixth on the club's all-time list.
It also gave Oakland its fourth victory in six games since entering the All- Star break on a four-game slide and just its sixth in the last 30 games on the road.
Hometown product Duane Below made his major league debut for the Tigers and gave up three runs -- one earned -- over five-plus innings. Born in Britton, Michigan, Below had his contract purchased prior to the game after going 9-4 with a 3.13 earned run average in 18 starts with Triple-A Toledo, but had his night come to an end in the sixth inning after serving up Matsui's milestone homer.
The 37-year-old opened up the sixth inning by smacking a fastball from Below off the right field foul pole for his seventh homer of the season and first since June 16. Twenty-five major league players and eight in the Japanese Leagues have previously reached the mark, but Matsui is the first to combine in the two leagues for 500.
Matsui hit 168 of his homers in the States, including 140 over seven seasons with the Yankees, who the A's visit on Friday for a three-game set. They do so hoping to win back-to-back road games for the first time since May 8-9.
Oakland nearly packaged a gift of its own for Detroit in the bottom of the seventh when Brad Ziegler yielded back-to-back singles with one out, but Craig Breslow came on and got the dangerous Victor Martinez to hit into an inning- ending double play.
Oakland should be relieved to be leaving Detroit with a series split after blowing leads in the third and sixth inning.
Below was sharp to begin his debut, retiring the first six batters he faced before David DeJesus reached on an error by second baseman Carlos Guillen. The wheels came off from there for the youngster as Landon Powell followed with a single to center that put runners on the corners, setting up Eric Sogard for his first career RBI that came on a groundout to Guillen.
Oakland, which failed to score in the fourth inning of Tuesday's opener despite loading the bases with nobody out, filled the bases in the inning, only to see Josh Willingham strikeout looking on three pitches for the second out.
Matsui, though, came through with a grounder back to Below, who knocked the ball down with his glove, but couldn't recover in time to get the out at first as Powell came in to score for a 2-0 lead.
Detroit answered in the bottom of the frame when Ramon Santiago followed Don Kelly's triple with an RBI groundout before Ordonez later tied the game on a run-scoring liner to center.
After Matsui's homer put the A's back ahead, the Tigers again responded with a three-run frame in the bottom of the sixth. Ordonez and Miguel Cabrera opened the inning with consecutive singles off starter Brandon McCarthy, prompting Athletics interim manager Bob Melvin to summon right-hander Joey Devine from the bullpen. The switch didn't throw off the Tigers as Martinez greeted the reliever with a two-run double.
Kelly pushed the Tigers' advantage to two runs with a sacrifice fly before Devine retired Santiago and Austin Jackson on fly balls to end the inning.
Despite getting charged with a run over his inning of work, Devine (1-1) got the win in relief of McCarthy, who yielded four runs over five-plus innings.
In addition to Below, the Tigers also recalled pitcher Charlie Furbush from Toledo while sending hurler Adam Wilk and outfielder Casper Wells to the minor league club...Also prior to the game, Detroit acquired infielder Wilson Betemit from Kansas City for minor league pitcher Antonio Cruz and catcher Julio Rodriguez. Betemit is expected to join the Tigers on Thursday in Minnesota and is likely to take playing time away from Brandon Inge, who is batting just .177 with one homer in 70 games this year...Purcey was traded from Oakland to Detroit in May for third baseman Scott Sizemore, who did not start after getting hit in the jaw by a pitch in Tuesday's opener. Sizemore did come into the game as a defensive replacement, while second baseman Jemile Weeks did not play after fouling a ball off his right foot on Tuesday. He had started 36 straight games since his promotion from the minors on June 7...With Sizemore out, Jackson crossed the diamond to start in his place, with catcher Landon Powell making his first start of the season at first. Sogard, who replaced Sizemore on Tuesday, started at second.